The Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, has said the budget of the Federal Ministry of Aviation in 2013 aims to improve and consolidate the ongoing effort at infrastructural upgrade and the certification of all airports in the country in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards.
She disclosed this during the defence of 2013 budget to the Senate and declared that it is unacceptable that none of the airports in the country was certified by the world regulatory body.
To achieve this the Minister said the current effort at reconstruction and remodelling of the airports would be consolidated and improved upon in the 2013 fiscal year, especially with regard to the provision of safety-critical infrastructure.
Areas that will receive priority attention include landing instruments, security and communication infrastructure, water hydrants, fire fighting vehicles, airfield lighting and uninterrupted, 24-hour electricity supply.
Others include equipment for the control and prevention of bird strikes, conveyor belts, functional air-conditioning systems for the remodelled terminals, avio bridges, sufficient apron buses to halt the risky practice whereby passengers walk through the tarmacs to board aircraft, welfare buses for aviation workers to alleviate their hardship in terms of transportation to and from work, amongst others.
She stated that this infrastructure upgrade is beside the construction of five new international airport terminals and several perishable and cargo terminals across the nation's airport.
'”The aim of all these projects is to modernise our airports, gradually phase out all obsolete equipment and infrastructure and bring our airports to international standards and best practices. This is the only way we can get our airports to be certified”, Oduah declared.
A member of the committee, Senator Babalola Odunsi, commended the face-lift given to the airport terminals across the country, and expressed joy that the testimonies of air travellers about a new travelling experience is heart-warming.
Odunsi referred to a documentary in an electronic medium which not only show-cased the transformed terminals, but also the testimonies of ordinary air travellers, whom, he said were visibly elated at the new look the airports are now wearing.
''We congratulate and commend you for the work you are doing and for this publicity. We saw air travellers expressing happiness about the turn-around at the airports; this is what we all desire for our people and the sector'', he said.
Speaking in the same vein, Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Hope Uzodinma, said it is ''very sad that most of our airports are not certified in accordance with ICAO standards. We must therefore do everything possible to get them certified''.
The Chairman noted that other areas which deserve serious attention; and upon which government must find a way to fund in the 2013 budget is capacity building and training of professionals/experts by the Nigerian College of Aviation Technolgy (NCAT), airfield lighting as well the maintenance of the runways.
He emphasised that the Senate and the Ministry must collectively work together to ensure that the 2013 budget improves upon the achievements recorded in 2012 in order to be able to deliver on the expectations of Nigerians who not only expect functional facilities at the airports, but also to ensure that aviation plays a pivotal role in the economic development of the nation.
''Let me say that our watch-word for year 2013 budget is must be prudence; realistic, tenacious and accountable execution of capital projects'', Uzodimma added.